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September in Music

A highlight of musical releases in September 2023

September 2023 saw the release of a number of highly anticipated albums spanning various genres. In fact, according to Album of the Year, there were 870 Long Plays (LPs) and 251 Extended Plays (EPs) released. Given these prolific numbers, it bodes well to focus on the most “popular” releases—ones which have been most hyped by fans, news outlets, and even celebrities. 

Possibly the most anticipated album of the month—at least, to teenage girls in their 20s—was Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore release, GUTS, on September 8. Like her debut album, this album is once again featureless. While GUTS is officially categorized as pop, it is evident that the rock genre had some influence on the album’s overall sound and lyricism. Rodrigo has already done multiple live performances of songs from the album, including on NBC’s Today show and at the VMAs. She also announced the GUTS World Tour this month, with Toronto performances on March 29 and 30, 2024. 

GUTS by Olivia Rodrigo. Credit: Apple Music

The following Friday was another busy day for music, with Mitski, the Pretenders, Demi Lovato, and various other artists all dropping new albums. Previously, Mitski had already released three singles from The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, a short album lasting approximately 30 minutes. This album is a perfect example of quality over quantity—there is a dreamy, picturesque quality to it that tells a story. There’s also something to be said about an album that can be comfortably consumed in one sitting—or, at the very least, without switching out the record. A local Toronto record store, Sonic Boom, hosted an early listening party for the album on September 13, two days before its release. 

This Land is Inhospitable and So Are We by Mitski. Credit: Bandcamp

Similarly, The Pretenders released three singles in anticipation of their twelfth studio album, Relentless. While the album was originally anticipated to release on September 1, its actual release date was September 15. On September 3, when the Pretenders rocked out on stage at the Rogers Centre, Chrissie Hynde, lead vocalist and guitarist, demonstrated her exceptional vocals—which have not diminished in the slightest with age. Relentless is a strong album, mixing upbeat rock with melodic ballads—The Promise of Love, with its bluesy piano intro, is the first example to come to mind. The band has since been busy promoting the album with performances, opening for multiple bands, and headlining their own tour in Europe this month. 

Relentless by The Pretenders. Credit: Apple Music

Speaking of rock music, Demi Lovato makes her comeback as a rock artist with Revamped, a rock re-recording of some of her greatest hits. Multiple big names feature on this album, including Guns and Roses’ lead guitarist, Slash, and Bert McCracken from The Used. The album has been described as “unrecognizable,” alongside a host of other praises. Indeed, Lovato plays expertly with the sound of the songs, making each one musically interesting to listen to and undeniably reflective of the rock genre. In most cases, her vocals, which have always been rock-oriented, are nearly identical to the original—one factor that makes this genre transition so successful. Revamped has been well-received, and Lovato got a chance to perform a number of the rock-ified songs at the VMAs just days before the album’s release. 

Revamped by Demi Lovato, Credit: Rolling Stone

It wouldn’t be an album wrap-up without some mention of Taylor Swift—1989 (Taylor’s Version) comes out on October 27. On September 19, Swift brought back the famous vault track game, in which fans solve puzzles to find the names of new album tracks, with a twist—in order to play, Swifties googled “Taylor Swift” to commence an 89-puzzle sequence. 33 million completed puzzles were needed to unlock the vault, but it took less than 24 hours for Swifties to complete this task. A hidden voice message from Taylor announced the vault track titles, and Taylor finally revealed the entire tracklist, which includes 22 songs with no features. 

1989 (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift. Credit: Taylor Swift Official Store

On the same day, Jack Antonoff revealed that Bleachers’ fourth album is in the works, with the release of new single “Modern Girl” and promotion mentioning the term “B4.” The band’s last studio album was released in 2021, so fans are eager to see what the next era of Bleachers will bring. This song prominently features upbeat saxophone lines mingled with an anthemic chorus sung in unison. Now, the question on everyone’s minds is whether we will see B4 before the end of 2023, or if we will be left waiting until 2024.

It is safe to say that September 2023 was an incredibly rich month for the music industry. This round-up barely scratches the surface, and many gems were inadvertently overlooked in the writing of this piece. With over 1000 releases, there was surely a release for every taste. October 2023 promises to be the same, with Drake’s For All the Dogs release date pushed to the 6th, the Taylor Swift: the Eras Tour movie on the 13th, rumours of a Maisie Peters Good Witch deluxe release, and 1989 (Taylor’s Version) on the 27th. 

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